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NATIONAL STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES OF SINGAPORE MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, AT THE JOINT HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE 2ND FORUM OF MINISTERS AND ENVIRONMENT AUTHORITIES OF ASIA PACIFIC (2ND A/P FORUM) AND THE 7TH SESSION OF THE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN ASIA PACIFIC (7TH MCED)

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

INTRODUCTION AND SINGAPORE’S CONTEXT

1.       Protecting the environment and the health of people is a central element to the attainment of sustainable development. Statistics have long shown that proper control of pollution tends to correlate with economic growth, especially for many developing countries. Singapore thus takes pollution issues seriously. As a small island city state of 720 square kilometres and with no natural resources, the challenges of pollution are more acute for Singapore.

SUSTAINABLE SINGAPORE BLUEPRINT

2.       Even as Singapore develops and makes steady economic progress over the past 52 years since our independence, we have continued to place emphasis on sustainable development. As part of our efforts to sustain this, we have come up with the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which sets out our national vision and plans on sustainable development until 2030. The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint is a living document that undergoes regular reviews to maintain its relevance.

3.       In the interest of time, I will draw focus on policies related to waste and water management, which are integral to the theme of a resource efficient and pollution-free Asia Pacific.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

4.       To address waste upstream, Singapore works towards inculcating the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) approach. We have launched the National Recycling Programme since 2001 to raise public awareness about recycling and to encourage individuals to recycle more. We also enforce strict anti-littering laws to keep the country clean.  

5.       To address waste downstream, we have an integrated waste management system to minimise waste at source and ensure proper waste recycling and disposal. All incinerable wastes, including plastics that are not recycled, are disposed of at modern waste-to-energy incineration plants equipped with advanced air pollution control systems. Non-incinerable wastes and ash from the incineration process are disposed of at leachate-free off-shore landfills.

6.       Through these concerted efforts, the overall recycling rate in Singapore has increased. We have also set a target to achieve 65 per cent overall waste recycling by 2020 and 70 per cent by 2030 to help meet our goal of moving “Towards a Zero Waste Nation”.

WATER MANAGEMENT

7.       Turning to water, being a small island state with an increasing demand for water, Singapore makes every drop of water count. We achieve this by adopting three key strategies: one, collect every drop; two, re-use water endlessly; and three, desalinate seawater.

8.       Singapore works closely with the private sector to lower water consumption. This includes launching the Water Efficient Building Certification Programme in 2004 and incentivising water efficiency using the Water Efficiency Fund scheme that started in 2007. This is especially important as non-domestic use is expected to increase from 55 per cent of water demand today to 70 per cent by 2060.

9.       We also have in place measures to ensure households and industries use water efficiently by getting them to adopt water-efficient fittings and appliances that can help conserve water. The recently introduced mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme helps consumers choose their products such as taps, flushing cisterns, urinals, washing machines, and other appurtenances wisely.

10.     Given that reclaimed water and desalinated water are part of our sources of water, we implement stringent and comprehensive policies to control and manage wastewater. Singapore’s sewerage system covers the entire country. All trade effluent discharged to the sewer must comply with our trade effluent regulations to ensure that it is suitable for water reclamation and subsequent processing into Singapore’s brand of reclaimed water called NEWater. Surplus used water not recycled into NEWater is collected and treated to internationally recognised standards before discharge. Singapore also does regular water quality monitoring of our water bodies to ensure that they meet international water quality standards.

TRANSBOUNDARY POLLUTION

11.     Singapore does its part in reducing its resource and pollution footprints.  However, localised pollution control efforts alone are not enough in achieving a pollution-free planet because pollution crosses borders through carriers, such as air and water.

12.     Therefore, it is important for countries to adopt holistic strategies, including cooperating to address transboundary pollution. Every country must also do its part in the collective effort in minimising pollution from source. In addition, multilateral and regional bodies, such as UN Environment and UN ESCAP, play an important role in facilitating effective implementation through capacity building.

SINGAPORE COOPERATION PROGRAMME

13.     As a responsible international citizen, Singapore also shares our experience on sustainable development.  Under the Singapore Cooperation Programme, we have since shared our know-how on waste and water management, and broader sustainability and environmental issues. To date, more than 100,000 officials from fellow developing countries have undergone such training.

CONCLUSION

14.     In conclusion, Singapore stands ready to contribute to the discussions here as well as the vision of a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia Pacific region. Thank you.

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